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Yamaha Custom Tenor Sax Comparisons

28th February 2019

It’s a question we commonly get asked: “What’s the difference between the 875 and 82Z?” There are some tech differences which we outline below in this blog. These difference go towards the feel and sound on each model.

In this blog we discuss the differences and also feature a video demo of these two models back-to-back, so you can hear the difference.


Yamaha YTS-875 EX

The 875 EX Tenor saxes offer smooth key response, blow very comfortably, and deliver a deep, refined sound rich with colour. The 875 EX also provides great flexibility with a wide dynamic range, and stunning projection that fills the hall with an authoritative tone. Although Yamaha mention this model is designed with Classical saxophonists in mind there are a whole host of jazz and contemporary players using the 875 EX series. As such, its important not to put it into a box from that point of view.

This new EX model boasts various new features including:

  • The new octave key has a unique ball joint design for a smoother, quicker action.
  • The new neck receiver also offers an improvement to the tonal response.
  • The bell brace on the body has also been re-designed. It now features a simple two -point contact to allow a free resonance at this point of the instrument.
  • There has also been small modifications to the left hand see-saw key to ensure easier playability at speed on the left hand table keys.
  • The 875 EX Tenor features an E1 Neck – The mid-size taper Yamaha offer (slightly narrower than the V1 on the 82Z)

Yamaha YTS-82Z Atelier Edition

This amazing new Yamaha YTS-82Z Atelier Edition model is based around the standard model but with a few notable differences that do quite radically change the way it plays. The changes have been put into place on this limited edition model to offer players an alternative sound concept to the standard 82Z.

So, on this Atelier model there are the following changes:

New C1 Crook:

Yamaha have matched this model up with the C1 crook, instead of the V1 used on the 82Z normally. The C1 has the narrowest taper of all the Custom Yamaha crooks, as such it centres the sound into a rich column and is very free blowing.

Oversized Neck Screw:

We first saw these on some visiting US pro players Saxes around 10 years ago. It seemed that a lot of the LA based players especially were going nutty over these new screws. Fundamentally it’s a case of adding extra weight to selected nodal points on the instrument. These are the areas that aid the resonance and vibrancy of the instrument. Commonly adding weight will give the player the sense of solidity in the tone and a little something extra to blow against.

Lightweight Thumb Rest:

There is a new lightweight thumb rest which again has been designed to compliment the various acoustic points on the instrument. It’s often a case of balancing the addition or reduction of certain elements to get the instrument resonating as positively as possible.

Key Modifications:

Alongside the aforementioned changes there are a couple of small modifications with some of the keywork and guard designs. For example the right hand action pillars are soldered independently to the body, not on a brass rib. This promotes more resonance without that deadening rib being attached. Yamaha have also gone back to the classic bell to body tab design.

Yamaha YTS-82Z Standard Model

The evolution of the Yamaha Custom Z continues and these are the Saxophones that have put Yamaha right into the mix at the pro-end of the market.

The current standard model 82Z Tenors have been re-examined from the neck to the bell. They are now equipped with a one-piece bell for increased resonance and the highly regarded V1 neck for the optimal combination of response and control.

The new Z model comes after intense and thorough development with top saxophonists around the world. Interesting features include the new V1 neck which is packed full of power, the metal resonators on the pads which add brightness and the one piece bell for amazing resonance.

In our opinion this is now arguably the most vibrant, ‘alive’ pro Saxophone on the market, a joy to play.

  • Hand finished in Yamaha Pro Japan factory.
  • One piece bell aids overall resonance and response.
  • Metal reflectors on the pads add brightness and immediacy of tone.
  • The V1 neck was preferred by the vast majority of testers due the huge open sound.
  • Supplied in Custom Z case with Yamaha ebonite mouthpiece and accessories.

We keep a wide range of Tenor Saxophones in stock here at Dawkes Music for you to try in-store or at home. From these top Yamaha Custom models to Selmer, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, WoodStone and more. Check out the full range here.